Spain's World Cup champion women's soccer team say they won't play again until Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales resigns. The team released a statement Friday condemning Rubiales' behavior during ceremonies after the World Cup final, per Marca.
During the on-field celebration after Spain's 1-0 victory over England, Rubiales forcibly kissed midfielder Jenni Hermoso on the lips. The moment was captured on video, prompting calls for Rubiales to resign. Rubiales apologized for his actions a day later and claimed that there was "no bad faith from either side."
Calls for Rubiales' resignation continued, including one from Spain's second deputy prime minister and minister of labor and social economy Yolanda Díaz, who called Rubiales' actions "an intolerable example of the machismo that women continue to endure."
Reports emerged Thursday suggesting that Rubiales would announce his resignation. However, he reversed course Friday, emphatically refusing to leave his post during an emergency general assembly with members of Spain's soccer federation, also known as the RFEF.
"From our union we want to emphasize that no woman should feel the need to respond to the forceful images that the whole world has seen and of course, they should not be involved in non-consensual attitudes," the players indicate in the statement issued by FutPro.
"The players of the Spanish Soccer Team, current world champions, expect forceful answers from the public powers so that actions such as those contained do not go unpunished.
"After everything that happened during the Women's World Cup, we want to state that all the players who sign this letter will not return to a call for the National Team if the current leaders continue. The signing players are: Jennifer Hermoso; Alexia Putellas; Mass Rodriguez; Irene Paredes; Ona Batlle; Mariona Caldentey; Teresa Abelleira; Maria Perez; Tasting Coll; Aitana Bonmati; Laia Codina; Claudia Zornoza; Oihane Hernandez; Rocio Galvez; Irene Guerrero; Round Alba; Athena del Castillo; Eva Navarro; Enith Hall; Ivana Andres; Salma Paralluelo, Esther González, Olga Carmona (23 World Cup winners, editor's note); Patricia Guijarro; Lola Gallardo; Nerea Eizagirre; Ainhoa Moraza; Maria Leon "Mapi"; Sandra Cloths; Claudia Pina; Amaiur Sarriegi; Leila Ouahabi; Laia Alexandri; Lucia Garcia; Andrea Pereira; Vero Boquete; Ainhoa Tirapu; Sandra Villanova; Ana Romero "Willy"; Silvia Meseguer; Nagore Calderon; Carmen Arce "Kubalita"; Priscilla Borgia; Natalia Pablos; Susan Guerrero; Larraitz Lucas; Elizabeth Benedict; Amanda Sampedro; Isabel Fuentes; Elizabeth Sanchez; Mari Paz Azagra; Vanessa Gimbert; Virginia Torrecilla; Leire Landa; Elizabeth Ibarra; and Marta Torrejon."
Earlier in the statement, Hermoso clarified that she did not consent to being kissed by Rubiales after the win. Rubiales claimed Friday that the kiss was mutual and used that to justify staying in his role. He also claimed that was the type of kiss he would give one of his daughters.
Rubiales' announcement and refusal to step down were met with applause from members of the RFEF present at the assembly, including women's national team head coach Jorge Vilda.
FIFA announced Thursday that it would open an investigation into the matter. Following Rubiales' statements Friday, it could be up to FIFA to decide whether he is allowed to continue in his current role.
Jenni Hermoso: 'Simply put, I was not respected'
Hermoso released her own statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, later Friday, reiterating that the kiss was not consensual and that she felt "vulnerable" and "a victim of an impulse-driven, sexist, out of place act without any consent on my part. Simply put, I was not respected."
Official Announcement. August 25th,2023. pic.twitter.com/lQb18IGsk2
— Jenn1 Hermos0 (@Jennihermoso) August 25, 2023
Hermoso revealed that she was pressured to make a joint statement by the RFEF, who went through her "family, friends, teammates, etc." to try to make it happen.
She finished by reiterating that she will not play for the national team again "while the current leaders remain."